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Bipolar and Me
By Maya

Hi. My name is Maya. I'm a 41year old single mum, a dental surgeon and owner of 2 successful
dental practices. I have Bipolar.
I started writing my story in 2014, after my 2nd suicide attempt. Originally, it was only as part of my
therapy, almost like vomiting when you feel sick to feel better afterwards, but then the more I wrote,
the more I wanted to write. I felt the need to find purpose in my suffering as a means of dealing
with it better. And that is why I decided to dedicate my story to everyone; everyone who, like me,
does not just suffer with bipolar disorder, and the trail of destruction it leaves behind in our own
lives and the lives of those around us, but everyone who suffers with mental illness. I don't want
any of you to feel as lonely as I have for most of my life. I'm also writing this for the family and
friends that suffer with us; those who often carry on supporting us regardless. In writing this I also
give thanks to the professional people that have helped me slowly piece my life back together
again; my psychiatrist, my community psychiatric nurse, who's become a friend and confidant, the
duty team and all the staff at Milbrook psychiatric unit. Last, but not least, I hope to get the
message across to everyone with preconceived ideas, or a lack of knowledge and understanding
of bipolar disorder or mental illness in general. I want to give you a small glimpse into our lives, so
you will hopefully come to understand better, to raise awareness for others and have empathy
without judgement. I beg that you listen with the purpose of trying to understand, instead of
listening with the intention of replying or criticizing, because what we experience is VERY, VERY
real....
WebMD gives the definition and symptoms of Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression,
as: "...a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy,
thinking, and behavior." It carries on to explain that: "People who have bipolar disorder can have
periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad,
hopeless, and sluggish. In between those periods, they usually feel normal. You can think of the
highs and the lows as two 'poles' of mood, which is why it's called 'bipolar' disorder. The word
"manic" describes the times when someone with bipolar disorder feels overly excited and
confident. These feelings can also involve irritability and impulsive or reckless decision-making.
About half of people during mania can also have delusions (believing things that aren't true and
that they can't be talked out of) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)."
I do believe that if you take the time and trouble to study the brain's anatomy, how it functions
chemically, physiologically and biologically, as well as how the different mood stabiliser
medications, prescribed to treat Bipolar disorder successfully, work pharmacologically, you will find
that this is as much a physical illness as any other that you can see the clinical signs of. It is
triggered and exacerbated by anything that can disturb the chemical balance in our brains, such as
traumatic events, stress, a lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption or use of recreational
drugs. Having said this, it is important to also acknowledge that everyone's perceptions are
different and what one person may experience as stress or trauma, another may not.
No two people are alike and I'm sure that people living with bipolar disorder all have different
experiences of this destructive mental illness. I can only share my own. For those who have
preconceptions, don't understand, or think it’s nonsense, I challenge you to go and do a bit of
homework before you judge. Then, be grateful that you have been spared, because the emotional
torture it drags its victims through is worse than any physical pain I have personally experienced in
all of my life, and that includes being in labour for more than 24 hours with my first child, waiting 5
hours in A&E with a broken hip without pain relief and an elbow cut open to the bone having fallen
onto a glass bowl. I can carry on if you doubt me. It’s really the only thing that has ever managed to
rob me of every rational thought and feeling, has made me feel so unbearably lonely,
misunderstood, overwhelmingly sad, torn apart, afraid, hopeless, worthless, ashamed, anxious,
lost, paranoid, numb inside and completely detached from reality, so much so that I wanted to be
dead. The constant rushing thoughts, the flashing violent and sexual images and demons chasing
me when I close my eyes, the nightmares that left me panting in cold sweat for nights in a row, the
panic attacks that caused my heart to race and my whole body to shake, making me want to run
away from everyone and myself, and the hallucinations of things floating round in my room and
coming at me. To me, it has been like a monster that searched and found every little bit of life

inside of me and tried to squeeze it out until I couldn't breathe. It has clawed and scraped at my
soul until my heart was an aching, torn piece of raw meat in my chest.

I want to stress that none of us can be called "a bipolar"; the same as someone suffering from
heart disease, cannot be called "a heart disease". We are not a "thing". It is an illness we suffer
from, more like a "thing" we carry inside of us and have to live with. We are human beings with
personalities, feelings and needs like everyone else. There has been the theory for a long time
that, due to a deficiency in our brains, we just lack the right kinds and levels of chemicals that
affect how well balanced we feel, and that our moods differ from the normal "ups-and-downs" that
everyone else experiences.
It is important for me to explain that I don't believe in blaming my personality traits or any mistakes
I've made in my life on other people, my circumstances, my illness or the act of hiding behind it. I
believe that all of us have a dark and a light side. I acknowledge both my sides now, in addition to
my illness and my limitations. I accept that I am very sensitive, emotional and highly strung, that I
don't cope well under a lot of pressure, and due to my low self-esteem and feelings of total, utter
incompetence as a human being, I have declined help and support in the past. I guess I always
believed, as Earnest Hemmingway writes, that "courage is grace under pressure". Even now that
I'm well I still have to cope with pressure and sometimes find it very difficult, but I try to minimise
what causes me pressure and stress, and try to live a healthy lifestyle free from stimulants and
drugs. I exercise daily, do meditation and relaxation exercises, make sure I get enough sleep, eat
healthy and take my medication; thus taking responsibility for keeping myself as well as I possibly
can. I take all the help and support I can get from family and friends. I see my psychiatrist regularly
and my community psychiatric nurse on a weekly basis for talk therapy. I accept responsibility for
the mistakes that I made in the past, and the relationships I destroyed when I did not seek help;
and unfortunately I did not seek help for a long time.
I covered up, acted over it and self-medicated. Anything you can think of, I tried it, in an attempt to
keep what was happening to me away from my family. I obsessively texted and emailed people I
just met and barely knew. I went to visit people at homes I didn't know. My weight yo-yo'd between
9st and 13st. Sometimes I ate nothing and exercised excessively and other times I ate
compulsively, didn't exercise and drank large amounts of alcohol every night to calm me down. I
became obsessed with alternative holistic therapies such as Reiki, Reflexology and Bach Flower
remedies. I became involved with everything New Age and all sorts of spiritualistic cults, went to
see psychics, read self-help, philosophy and spiritual books, and practiced martial arts, yoga and
meditation. I grasped at anything in the hope that it would make the noise in my head go quiet and
the pain in my heart and soul go away. Although I still believe that these holistic therapies and
natural means of relaxation and healing has a wonderful place within treatment programs and can
be very beneficial, in my extreme states of mind nothing could "reach" me anymore. I was willing to
try anything to release what was inside me, so that I could manage to act, in my eyes, "normal”,
and fulfill my roles sufficiently as a mother, a wife, a daughter, sister, friend and employer. But
nothing helped to ease the emotional pain I experienced during my crippling "lows" and during my
euphoric "highs". I felt invincible, irresistible, and beautiful, like a goddess with special powers and
wisdom to perform healing miracles. I walked on high ledges and turned up at work over-excited

and covered in glitter. I became involved in inappropriate relationships with men I barely knew and
had no regard for their families or my own. I destroyed my marriage and was on the verge of
leaving my family to go and live a simple life with the Native American people, after I attended a
talk by an old Indian Sage that convinced me that I needed to leave my family, because I raised his
healing energy power and that our joined energies would save the world. I finally launched a
serious attempt to end my life, not being able to cope with this thing inside me, or the thought of
exposing other people to the destruction it caused. Only then, with my "mask" broken and finally
having fallen off, was I ready to admit that I was not ok, that I needed long-term professional help if
I didn't want to completely lose or destroy the people closest to me or end up dead myself. That
was the day I put my ego to one side and asked for help.
Now that I have found my voice, I would like to share my story with you...

When I was little, my parents used to call me their "butterfly" child, too delicate and fragile to deal
with this life. Even now when I close my eyes, in my mind's eye, I see myself as an almost
translucent little girl, running in the sunshine and wind on a deserted beach by the shoreline with a
small kite up in the air behind me. I was always watching birds flying high up in the sky, wishing I
had wings like that and could fly far, far away; away from everything, everyone and away from
myself and this heaviness inside me. To be free from it. My father used to own a small 4-seater
Cessna airplane, and he would let me fly with him when I was eight years old. I loved it, because I
suppose that was as close as I could get to flying like a bird. Even from a young age the lyrics of
Toni Braxton's song, "One day I'll fly away", resonated with me.
I am the 2nd eldest of 4 children. I had a very strict upbringing and was always told to swallow my
tears. I was a sickly, shy, nervous little girl, who felt alone, even when there were people around
me. I always felt invisible and lost, like I didn't belong anywhere and that I wasn't good enough for
anything or anyone. I don't really know why I felt like this; I just did. All I ever wanted was to be
loved and accepted unconditionally, warts and all, and to fit and belong somewhere. I cried easily
and often, I wet my bed, bit my nails, was afraid of the dark, had nightmares every night and ended
up between my mum and dad in their bed most nights. We had cats and dogs and budgies; the
same as everyone else. I played with my dollies, rode my bike with my brother, stuck my mums
underskirts on my head and pretended I was a princess with long hair, baked mud cakes in the
summerhouse, climbed fruit trees and was told off for coming home late with our clothes, hands,
feet and mouths stained from blackberries; you know, the normal kind of things kids did. The two
truly positive features of my life were our doggie, Fiedies, and my granddad (mum's dad). I loved
my dog because he was my best friend, who loved me unconditionally, and I adored Grandad
because I was his favourite and he made me feel like a princess. He used to call me his "blou-oogkrulkoppie"(blue-eyed-curly-head). He taught me how to put a fishing line, hook and sinker
together and bait it myself, and used to take me fishing with him at 6am in the morning on the
beach. He told me to read and read and read English books with a dictionary next to me so that I
could look up the meaning of the words I didn't know, so as to increase my vocabulary. It was him
who taught me that "procrastination" is the most important word in the world to remember. With
them I belonged. But then they both died. My doggie was mauled by a pit-bull when I was five
years old and Grandad "drowned" by heart failure when I was in grade five. Fiedies was brought
home in a cardboard box, all torn apart, and Grandad vanished in front of my very eyes. Those two

events, and the fact that we moved house so many times, made me lose my sense of belonging
again. I found change very difficult to cope with, so I hated moving house and moving schools and
later moving countries. It made me feel so lost.
I did well enough at school, though. I played the piano, did ballet and gymnastics, played netball
and ran really fast. I sang in choirs, performed at drama and joined the drum majorettes. I wasn't
part of the "cool" crowd, but I had good friends. I guess my life was quite normal.
The only thing I have ever been very sure of in this life, even as very small child, was that I wanted
and needed to help people. I believed that if I helped others, if I could make a difference, I would
somehow find a sense of purpose, peace and worthiness; like a puzzle piece that fit into a specific
place in a very large puzzle. This was the reason I ended up choosing my profession, so I might
take a special interest in helping and showing kindness to people that were extremely nervous or
phobic, or were fragile themselves or self-conscious about their appearance. And you know,
people can tell when you really care. I chose to help them in a way where I could give plenty of
myself. It was so rewarding in its own way to watch people change in front of your very eyes and
be so appreciative.
I just forgot that when you give of yourself in that way, you need to draw the line somewhere and
make sure that you stay mentally and emotionally well and strong. I didn't do either. My mum once
said to me: "If you're ever asked in a work interview what your best and worst qualities are, you
should reply, "My best is also potentially my worst." It didn't make sense to me at the time, but it
does now, because what made me absolutely love my job for 18 years eventually made me hate it.
Why? Because I became so mentally drained and exhausted from giving of myself and trying to fix
people mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and absorbing all their fears that I ended up just
empty. That was when I started thinking that I needed to consider stepping away from dentistry. It
just wasn't making my heart sing anymore. I needed to find my purpose again. Like Dolly Parton
said: "Find out who you are and do it on purpose." I came to realize that life is a never ending
journey of self-discovery. I needed to ask myself the questions again: What am I all about, and
what do I want to make me happy again? I still wanted to help people with my gifts and talents (that
I was sure of), but not in the way that I had been. I did not wish to continue getting so terribly
stressed and drained in the process of helping others. I needed to do some soul searching and
make enough quiet time to relax and meditate to find out what I wished to do next.
When I was 6 years old, our school held a Spring Concert. As I was the only girl taking ballet
classes, I was chosen to be the Spring Fairy that would wake all the flowers after the winter with
her dance. On the night of the concert I felt so sick with stage fright, that when it was nearly time
for me to go on, I realised that I had completely forgotten my whole dance! I burst into tears and
went to find my teacher, who just reassured me that I would be ok. The next minute the curtain
went up, I swallowed my tears, smiled and started dancing with confidence. I made the dance up
as I went along. Nobody ever knew it wasn't the dance I'd learned in my ballet class, apart from my
mum. I guess that was the night I learned that no matter how you feel inside, as long as you can
put a "mask" on, smile and act with confidence, nobody will know any better. That worked for me
until I was 39 years old.

I am the 2nd of 4 children, and 3 of us have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at various stages
of our lives. My brother, a year older than me, and my sister, 8 years younger than me have been
diagnosed with Bipolar. My youngest brother is 12 years younger than me, and even though he
gets depressed he prefers to deal with it in his own way. My father suffered from extremely
resistant major depression for many years, but was never diagnosed with Bipolar. Both my mother
and father's ancestors suffered from depressive mental problems and my granddad's brother
committed suicide. Could you say that there is some genetic predisposition? Maybe, I'm not sure.
Now that I recognise the symptoms, though, I realise that I had lived with the symptoms of Bipolar
as long as I can remember, however it wasn't diagnosed as such until I was 23 years old.

During my 6 years of university I was under great pressure, struggling through what I realise now
as "highs", but more so, crippling "lows". I was taking light anti-depressants prescribed by my GP
and self-medicating with alcohol. It made the "highs" higher, but the "lows" afterwards even lower. I
didn't know what was wrong with me. I just felt so self-destructive. The only way I could motivate
myself when I felt sluggish and low, was by negative "self-talk" and however destructive it was it
managed to get me through the long nights of studying.
When I was 18years old and in my first year at university, I made my first suicide attempt. I took an
overdose of painkillers, but became scared and called for help when I started experiencing blurred
vision and feeling sick. I ended up in hospital. I had my stomach pumped and afterwards my
worried parents made me see a psychiatrist. A diagnosis of "stress-due-to-worrying-about-studies"
was made. I started cutting myself to get release from the horrible pent-up destructive feelings and
it made me feel better, but my mum was so upset by this when she found out that I felt too guilty to
carry on. I had to find some other way toward release, so that the people close to me couldn't see
and be affected. I started internalising my destructive feelings. I saw a psychologist as well, but it
didn't help me. I didn't trust him, because he knew my parents and I wasn't really ready to talk.
Anyway, I do not believe he took me seriously. He asked me to write down what was going on in
my head. I did and I thought it was pretty messed up. He didn't say anything more about it and I
took a couple of weeks off to study, went back to sit my exams and passed them.
From then on sometimes I was better and sometimes I was worse. I started smoking heavily,
sometimes between 20 and 30 cigarettes per day. I only noticed the crippling "lows" because the
"highs" were mostly too good to mention and I must have had periods of normality in between. I
just can't remember them now. Every 2-3 years I would hit a depression "low" and become
withdrawn and quiet, usually after the stress of exams. It was almost like a delayed reaction. By the
time I was 22 years old, on my "highs" I had a heightened libido and became quite promiscuous,
jumping from one relationship to the next, and getting myself into some tricky situations that could
have been detrimental if I wasn't looked after from above as much as I was.
When I couldn't sleep at night, I got into my car and drove until dawn; anywhere and nowhere in
particular. I hit a real "low" in my 6th year at University while preparing for my final exams. My dad
had sunk into a really deep depression over the previous 3 years. He was resistant to every
medication, even ECT, Electroconvulsive therapy, which only erased some of his memory. He
eventually attempted suicide and it really shook our family. My mum struggled to cope and my
younger siblings were only 12 and 8 years old. Having been responsible for them from a really
young age I tried to help them through that time, while trying to get my dad to his psychiatrist
appointments and supporting him and helping my mum. Initially I coped well and did well, but by
the time my final exams were near I couldn't sleep, or eat or concentrate at all. One day I just
collapsed in a sobbing heap on the floor in the Dean's office. I couldn't carry on. I was 23 years old.
I managed to sit my exams, but failed my Oral Pathology. Luckily, the Dental Board was lenient
due to my circumstances and I was allowed to take some time out to prepare and re-sit my exam. I
eventually passed, and eventually received my Dentistry degree in June 1998.
I left my home country a couple of weeks later to go and live and work in the UK. It was meant to
be a short-term thing. I wanted to work for a while, pay off my student loan and travel a bit, before
going back to my home country after 2 years. Most people probably would have found such a
dramatic move an exciting and adventurous challenge, but I hit rock-bottom again in the months
after arriving in the UK. I wrote in my diary and counted the days before I could go home. It was so
bad that eventually I had to make the decision whether to go back home or to uplift my roots and
make the UK my home. I couldn't bear to be so homesick any longer, so I did the latter and stayed.

My Bipolar was diagnosed in 1998. My first mood stabilising medication was prescribed at that
point. It was Lithium carbonate. This drug has been around, studied and tested the longest in
regards to Bipolar disorder. The other most common mood stabilising medications are the antiepileptic ones: Valproic acid, Lamotrigine and Carbamazipine. They are often prescribed in
combination with other medications such as anti-depressants. As I was still struggling with low
moods, I was given Paroxitine to take in combination with the Lithium. This triggered a dangerous
"high". Luckily my best friend noticed that I was behaving oddly and contacted my GP, who
stopped the anti-depressant immediately. I took Lithium for about a year only, until I became
pregnant with my son and the medication had to be stopped. I was then referred to a specialist
psychiatrist that worked specifically with pregnant women. During my pregnancy, and immediately
afterwards, I was put on Carbamazipine, as this would not affect my unborn baby or breast milk
and would prevent me from developing post-natal depression.
I felt really well during the whole of my pregnancy. Having grown up in a Christian home, with my
father being a Vicar, my parents were very shocked and upset about my pregnancy occurring out
of wedlock, and they insisted that I and the father of my baby married before our child's birth. We
were madly in love, afraid, and both very young at 24 years of age. I wasn't allowed the big, white
wedding I had always dreamed of, in my home country, because I was an embarrassment. So we
had a small Registry Office Wedding in England, in the rain, when I was 6 months pregnant.
After my son was born, I took no medication for 8 years. I would like to think that I was reasonably
well during that time. But during those years there were 4 events that were extremely traumatic
and stressful: A miscarriage in 2002, a litigation case that dragged on from 2004-2009, a new
business purchase in 2005, and an extensive oral surgery course from 2007-2008. By 2004 I was
working 40 hours per week and crying every morning in the car on my way to work, before putting
on a smiling, fake, brave face by the time I walked into my surgery. I started drinking more and
more at night time to calm myself down. I struggled increasingly with handling pressure.
The stress of the new business and the litigation case began to take a toll on the relationship with
my husband. We were constantly arguing. I'm not even sure which was first: the effect of my
"highs" and "lows" on our relationship, or the constant pressure from our relationship and work, on
my Bipolar. Either way, it was a hideous, vicious circle that slowly but surely broke our relationship
and tore our hearts apart. I ended up spending my time torn between wanting to run away and
wanting to come back to beg forgiveness in order to try again; but it was harder each time.

I hit my first "high" again in 2006. I had taken up Karate in the hope that it would distract me
enough to calm me down. I didn't seek help. The cracks started to appear that year. My second
"crash" came in 2008, by which time my moods were rapidly cycling from extremely "low" in the
morning to really "high" at night. I started to feel suicidal. I saw the duty team for the first time at my
home. The psychiatrist on call advised that I take some time out to recover. Instead I carried on.
The business couldn't afford me taking a break. I hated myself and my husband for the pressure
we were both putting me under, but I carried on. I started taking medication and was soon

discharged. The medication dose was reduced quite quickly and by 2011 the next "high" crash
came. I finally saw a psychiatrist that researched my entire history and started me on a
combination of Depakote (Sodium Valproate) and Serequel (Quetiapine). I responded well and was
discharged after 1 year. I tried to do everything right; I avoided alcohol, drugs and caffeine,
exercised, ate a balanced diet and tried to sleep enough, but I did not change my workload nor did
I minimize my stress. My husband and I carried on with our progressively broken-and-patched-up
relationship and worked together as before.
In the weeks before my 2nd suicide attempt in 2014, I found that my bipolar was running a cycle of
2 weeks feeling ok and 1 week of rapidly sinking into a deep depression and paranoia. I felt sure
that my husband was having an affair with his best friend. I became so anxious that I would scratch
the skin off my body. I could just about manage to ride it out to get to the 2 normal weeks again.
Being aware that the purpose of the mood stabilising medication was partly to prevent a "high", I
tried to reason with myself that this was as good as it was going to get. So I didn't tell anyone. The
thought of suicide, if I couldn't manage anymore, started to feel reassuring, and this thought helped
me get through, even as I became overtired due to a lack of sleep.
By the time that awful Saturday in June came, it took a silly argument about a teacup as I was on
my way down into the "low" part of my 3 week cycle I carried on my quick descent into that dark
place so that I lost track of anything that was reality around me. I didn't come out of that cycle on
June the 23rd 2014. I was suddenly and completely detached from myself and reality that I had no
thought and no feeling left. I didn't think, because I couldn't; I was just a passenger on a runaway
train heading over a cliff.

People tend to think that attempting to, or managing to, commit suicide, is a selfish or cowardly act
or an easy way out; as if one has actually thought about it and decided that they want to hurt
someone or that their loved ones weren't important enough for them to consider, or that they were
just weak and it seemed like an easy option. Well let me tell you: suicide can be a cry for help or an
act of desperation, but when people with mental health problems, including bipolar or severe
depression, attempt to or manage to kill themselves, I can assure you, they are way beyond the
point of rationalization. When you look in their faces, they will look dead and grey. They will have a
vacant look to their eyes, because they are empty. There is no rational mind inside them. How do I
know? I've seen that vacant look in my father's eyes when he came to kiss me goodbye, telling me
he was taking his car for a service, when his true intention was to kill himself and that was where
he was heading. I've seen that same vacant look in my own eyes staring back at me from a hotel's
bathroom mirror, before sticking a needle in my arm and downing a bottle of Vodka. At that point in
time you don't consider the consequences of your actions or the effect on everyone left behind,
because you simply can't. The only thing you know, is that it needs to stop and go quiet.
You know how looks can be deceiving? In the weeks after my serious suicide attempt, while I
recovered in hospital, several friends told me how shocked they were and how much they used to
envy me, that they thought I had the perfect life; a great husband and lovely son, a successful
business woman, working part-time, owning two businesses, having plenty of money, always going
on nice holidays. They didn't understand. Not many people do, apart from those who suffer
themselves.

Many people think that the last place they would want to be is in a psychiatric hospital unit. But you
know what, being admitted to Milbrook was, for me, like a Safe Haven. For 4 weeks, I felt protected
from myself and the outside world that had become too harsh a place for me. I needed time out. I
had lost myself and my dignity. Being locked away made me feel safe. It was a place where I
could become human again. I was so broken and fragile. The people I shared space with in those
four weeks made me realise again that mental illness is not selective in the choosing of its victims.
Some were rich, some were poor, some were extremely intelligent and others were just old and
alone. Some cried at night, some laughed and others were angry. Sometimes they made me laugh
and sometimes I felt like crying with them. Sometimes everyone was just there, quiet, each with
their own struggles.
It was strange to have the roles reversed, with me now being the patient. I recall an evening when
one of the psychiatric nurses in the ward asked me whether I felt scared and uncomfortable being
amongst the other psychiatric patients. I said to her then that I honestly didn't. I felt like one of
them. I was suffering and struggling like them, and there was no pressure or expectation of me
fixing them.
I certainly didn't judge any of them. A few of them I will never forget, just because they made me
laugh when I was so deeply depressed that some days I could barely drag myself out of bed. Kim who wanted to color her hair red in the television room sink and who nicked my special pink
pyjamas from the laundry room, because she said they were nicer than hers. Charlotte - who liked
to wear purple, did her dance routines and sang really off-key with her headphones on, outside my
bedroom window early every morning and Old Evelyn, bless her soul, who wore her clothes backto-front and inside-out, different colors of wigs, way too much make-up and talked randomly to
people she could and couldn't see. She would burst into tears at any time and laugh just as quickly
again. One of my favourite memories is the evening she came to sit next to me with a wig hanging
in her eyes, giving me a toothless grin and asking for some milk and a cookie. Out of the blue she
suddenly said: "I'll be Cinderella and you can be my little reindeer!!!" Just as quickly she got up and
walked off to ask one of the nurses to escort her outside so she could have one fag to smoke. I just
felt a deep empathy for them all. In there I didn't feel lonely.
It took time to get the right combination and concentrations of medication to even out my moods, to
help me sleep, and lift my very dark morning-depression. For the first week at least I didn't even
leave my room. I just slept and slept, partly because I was so exhausted and drained, and partly
because my mind and body couldn't deal with the reality or enormity of what had happened.
Integrating back into society after hospitalisation is a long and difficult, but necessary, process. I
wanted everything back to normal immediately. I wanted to take charge of my home again, get
back to work and take on all of my previous responsibilities. This was partly because I felt so guilty
that others had to stand in for me whilst I was away and partly because I felt so totally and utterly
incompetent and worthless whilst doing nothing, apart from trying to recover. At the same time I
couldn't immediately manage it all, and became so angry and frustrated when people told me I had
to slow down. I do know that I have in the past created my own stress by putting pressure on
myself.
There were so many people to help at home and at work. I struggled to handle the reality of the
consequences of my suicide attempt; the effect it had on my relationship with my family members,
my husband, my friends, work colleagues and businesses. I had no intention of being around to
see this field of destruction that I had created once again, and yet here I was having to face it again
anyway. I felt like a stranger in my own home and in my work place. That really strong sense of not
belonging anywhere came back with a vengeance. I, who so hate change, had to watch how
everything had changed again because of what I had done and I had to accept it. Nothing was
getting any easier, in fact, it was just really hard, but just in a different way. I started to think that I
had to stop expecting life to become easier, and then perhaps I wouldn't find it so hard; you know,
no expectations, and no disappointments. For the rest I had to learn patience and accept that
certain things only become better with time, that quiet miracle worker which heals, bestows


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